customer at cafe placing order with employee
From widening your social media presence to offering a loyalty program, there are many ways you can generate trust among your customers. — Getty Images/rez-art

Starting a business is an exciting feat, but garnering a following can be difficult right off the bat, especially with a limited budget. According to HubShout, 50% of all small businesses spend less than $300 a month on online marketing. With a limited marketing budget, it can be tough to earn the trust of your audience. However, doing so is crucial to both attracting and retaining loyal customers. To help you get started, here are five ways to build trust with consumers.

[Read: Customer Loyalty: What’s Love Got to Do With It? A Lot]

Have a strong social presence

Today, many consumers equate having a strong social media presence to authority. The larger a brand’s social media following and the more active their social media pages are, the more customers tend to trust them.

Your social media channels should be equipped with engaging images, from cover photos to feed posts. In addition, be sure to include a company bio, website and contact information in all applicable bio sections. Last but not least, post great content frequently and consistently, and interact with your followers by replying to their comments and messages.

Personalize your brand

Branding is what sets the face of your company apart from competitors. Treat your brand like it’s your business’s personality, adding character and life to it ⸺ show, don’t just tell, what you have to offer. Also, incorporate people into your customer service and ensure they master and maintain your brand’s voice. That way, your brand is consistent and shines through in every interaction.

For more ideas, check out our guide to branding your business.

The larger a brand’s social media following and the more active their social media pages are, the more customers tend to trust them.

Perfect your customer service

Poor customer service can break small businesses. Consumers are looking to buy from companies that communicate well and are available and quick to reply with knowledgeable answers. If you find yourself struggling to keep up with customer service demands, consider hiring an assistant or call center. An assistant can be an asset to your team by replying to live chats on your website, responding to customer emails, answering phone calls and even engaging with inquiries across your social media channels. A good call center is helpful at answering calls and solving problems.

[Read: 8 Ways Your Business Can Find New Customers]

Encourage customer reviews and testimonials

According to a BrightLocal survey, 53% of consumers will only use a business that has a rating of at least four stars and 91% say positive reviews make them more likely to use a business. Assist your customers with excellent service coupled with amazing products that they’ll feel compelled to review.

Happy customers make the best brand promoters. A simple way to generate reviews and testimonials is to send an email to your customers asking for them. If you find that asking alone does not work, give away something, such as an entry to win a $500 gift card or a coupon code for 50% off one product, in exchange for a review or testimonial.

Create a loyalty program

It can cost a lot of money and take a lot of time to get one single new customer. Once you earn your customers’ trust, the key to maximize your return on investment is to make your customers want to buy from you again and again. Loyalty programs help build relationships with customers, thus increasing their trust with your company and enticing them to become repeat visitors.

Additionally, loyal customers are more likely to do your marketing for you by recommending your products and services to their friends and family. Loyalty programs come in all different forms, including but not limited to:

  • Points programs, where customers earn a point for every dollar they spend.
  • Paid VIP programs, where customers pay a small fee to get access to special promotions.
  • Value programs, where you donate a portion of their sales to a special cause or specific charity when a customer makes a purchase.

[Read: 7 Ways to Improve E-Commerce Customer Retention]

Your customers are the reason for your business. By accommodating them and ensuring their satisfaction and trust in your brand, you’re setting your business up for long-term success.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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